Pakistan has reacted strongly to defence minister Manohar Parrikar’s remarks hinting at covert operations to counter terrorism emanating from the neighbouring country, saying the comments cemented its fears about India’s alleged involvement in terror.
Parrikar’s remarks, made at a conclave organised by a TV news channel in New Delhi on Thursday, triggered a storm and strategic experts questioned the defence minister’s decision to speak on the sensitive issue at a public forum.
“This statement only confirms Pakistan's apprehensions about India's involvement in terrorism in Pakistan,” said Sartaj Aziz, the adviser to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on national security and foreign affairs.
Aziz expressed “serious concern” at Parrikar’s reported remarks that India “will use terrorism to counter terrorism from other countries”.
“It must be the first time that a minister of an elected government openly advocates use of terrorism in another country on the pretext of preventing terrorism from that country or its non-state actors,” Aziz said in a statement issued late on Saturday.
Describing terrorism as a common enemy of the two countries, he said, “Pakistan sincerely pursues a policy of good neighbourly relations with India.”
Aziz said it is “vital for the two countries to work together to defeat this menace, from which Pakistan has suffered much more than almost any other country”.
So now Pakistan will blame India for every terrorist strike on its soil & hold up Def Min Parikar's statement as the confession. Well played— Omar Abdullah (@abdullah_omar) May 23, 2015
On May 5, a meeting of Pakistan’s top military commanders chaired by army chief Gen Raheel Sharif had accused the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), India’s external spy agency, of “involvement in whipping up terrorism”.
The charge was denied by New Delhi.
While speaking at the conclave on Thursday, defence minister Parrikar had said any country planning and plotting terror attacks against India will be dealt with "pro-actively".
"We have to neutralise terrorists through terrorists. Why can't we do it? We should do it. Why does my soldier have to do it?... Kaante se kaanta nikalta hai (You remove a thorn with a thorn)," Parrikar had said.
He said terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir were being paid monthly salaries ranging from Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000.
Parrikar’s remarks were also criticised by National Conference leader Omar Abdullah, the former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, who said the PDP-BJP coalition in the state was apparently planning to revive and empower ‘ikhwanis’ or counter-insurgents.